Book Review

The Aspirant by Mathew Joseph

Memoirs of a Monk Turned Civil Servant

It is a helpful book for those who are starting their exploration of the truth, and the nature of the mind and its challenges, the purpose of life, the conflict between ego and Self.

Title: The Aspirant

Author: Mathew Joseph

Publisher: Leadstart publishing

Genre: Autobiography, Memoir

First Publication: 2021

Language: English


Book Summary: The Aspirant by Mathew Joseph

If you do not become what you once aspired to become, does it matter?

‘The Aspirant’ looks for an answer to this perennial question. It is the story of a young man who once wanted to become a Carmelite monk, but ended up becoming a monk of a different order – a civil servant. The disillusionment with the way monastic life was practiced, made him take this new direction.

The journey ahead as a bureaucrat in CAG’s institution took the author to many places across the globe and caused him to meet several people – ordinary people with extraordinary stories – and those stories add extra layers to this memoir. And all through his life’s varied voyages, a part of him remained as a monk.

‘The Aspirant’ attempts to demystify two venerable institutions – the church and the bureaucracy – with a tinge of irreverence but without an iota of malice.


Book Review: The Aspirant by Mathew Joseph

Our identity is like a mirror covered in dust. We have no idea who we are, what we want to be, who we seek, and what we want to value. This is due to the dust that obscures our vision. In ‘The Aspirant’, Mathew Joseph explains that cleaning your mirror will not be a pleasant experience. However, only once you have removed the dust obscuring your mirror can you see your true reflection. Removing the dust allows you to see who you truly are.

Mathew Joseph is the narrator of The Aspirant and it truly feels like we are having a conversation with him in our living room. Mathew Joseph shares many personal stories of his time spent training as a monk and then a civil servant. He shares the way a monk thinks and the ancient techniques still used today to have a more joyful, peaceful, purposeful life.

We need to be more deliberate about the values we follow because our values guide us in life. Mathew Joseph encourages readers to pursue higher values, including gratitude, service, truthfulness, and compassion. Ultimately, these higher values are what will give you happiness, fulfilment, and meaning.

As The Aspirant is a memoir, we do get the overall story of author Mathew’s life and how he ended up doing what he was always meant to do, serving people, which I think was very interesting. The author’s opinion of the interdependent relationship of work and life is something I believe in wholeheartedly. Life is brief, and it’s wasteful to spend time doing things that do not align with your passions or gifts.

The words were simple, the moral was clear: each and every chapter was immaculate with significant details about life, exhibited in a very consoling tone. You’ll learn many things that are extremely important to find mental peace and balance crucial elements in life. This book provides insight to see the world with a transparent mind. Author’s spiritual journey of monkhood and then being a bureaucrat in CAG’s institution is really interesting and thought-provoking. The book is full of wisdom that everyone needs to read. It may not be relevant to you at the time you read it but it may plant a seed. Or it can act as a reminder to live a more purposeful life.

The Aspirant by Mathew Joseph is a helpful book for those who are starting their exploration of the truth, and the nature of the mind and its challenges, the purpose of life, the conflict between ego and Self. The book simplifies a lot of things by showing that the monk mind is an indispensable and integral part of life. All in all, it’s a very useful book to explore the various facets, challenges of living life, overcoming negativity and mental roadblocks, and guiding you to realise your full potential in your most important journey of living life with full awareness and wisdom. Highly recommended!

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